BY KIM LUTTRELL
Since becoming club coordinator of the Columbus Club of the Knights of Columbus, Michael Puhr said he has strived to bring different entertainment choices to its members as well as the community at large.
“We try to bring in entertainment that you would not normally find at the David S. Palmer Arena or other places,” explained Puhr.
On Feb. 9, the Knights of Columbus will stage its first Mardi Gras party. The party will include a band new to Danville as well as food including jambalaya, pulled pork sliders, beads and a 50/50 drawing.
Puhr said that since becoming the club coordinator, he has thought of doing a Mardi Gras party, so when the Champaign-based music group Seventeen Sisters dropped off a demo CD along with a business card last summer, things began to come together.
“I listened to their music and learned something of their background,” Puhr said. “They seemed like the perfect group for our first Mardi Gras party. They are from Mississippi and they are Catholic.”
While there are not actually 17 sisters, there are five equally talented sisters who perform together.
Sarah, the oldest of the five Scarbrough sisters, who acts as spokesperson for the group, started singing at a funeral at the age of 9.
“Growing up in the South, I began singing Southern gospel music,” Sarah said. “I began singing at funerals, weddings, county fairs and festivals.”
As her younger sisters grew up, they began to join Sarah in performing, leading to the formation of their first group, the Ladybugs.
“We performed everywhere we could, shopping malls, summer festivals, anywhere,” Sarah said. “We were asked to perform at a fair in New York, which led to us performing a lot in upstate New York, Connecticut and Florida.”
The band eventually adopted the name Seventeen Sisters.
“We would show up with a bunch of girlfriends and people would ask how many sisters there are and we would say ‘about 17,’ so the name came about,” Sarah said.
The band came to relocate to Champaign from Mississippi in 2007 as a result of being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
“Actually we were homeless for about a year and a half,” Sarah said. “We even lived at the Kickapoo State Park campgrounds for a while.”
The group settled in Champaign because an older sister and aunt already lived there.
“Champaign is such a great music town,” Sarah said. “There are so many places that have live music where we can perform plus we are not too far from Chicago, Indianapolis, Memphis and Nashville.”
The group has performed at places such as Cowboy Monkey, High Dive and Memphis on Main in Champaign and regularly perform in numerous Chicago clubs.
Sarah describes the band’s music as edgy driving rock and roll, with a slight touch of pop.
“Our music is about socially conscience topics like homelessness, poverty, hunger and other types of social and environmental issues,” Sarah said.
The sisters, who are Sarah, Gracie, Angel, Faith and Hannah, perform music they have written themselves.
“We do perform a few cover songs but most of it is our own music,” Sarah said.
The sisters manage themselves, doing their own booking, marketing and public relations work. The sisters have a younger brother who does help them with set up and is currently learning to play music. The sisters also have an older brother and sister who are not involved in the music business.
“Our music is a source of joy and we love to share with others,” Sarah said. “It is important in our life and in our relationship to God.”
Doors at the Knights of Columbus will open at 6 p.m. Feb. 9 with food available for $5 per plate and the music will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each or you can purchase a table that seats eight for $80. Tickets can be purchased by stopping by the club at 310 Bryan Ave. or calling the club at 443-0032.
Tickets for the Knights of Columbus Mardi Gras party can be purchased at the club, 310 Bryan Ave., or by calling 443-0032. The tickets are $10 per person or $80 for a table of eight. Tickets also will be available at the door. Food will available at $5 per plate. Visit http://www.seventeensisters.com to hear a sample of the band’s music.